Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ils Sont Fous, Ces Grenouilles

The French are arresting classical musicians and tour promoters for using "foreign workers," who cost much less than French musicians. Where's the harm in that?
OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts: "But that's not the way the musicians' unions in Germany and France see it. Mr. Mertens, of the German union, says people like Mr. Hartung are engaging in 'unfair competition' that 'jeopardizes European jobs.' According to this view, orchestra directors bringing in low-wage East European musicians to play to West European crowds are exploitative profiteers who are mistreating their workers and harming their West European counterparts at the same time. According to Mr. Mertens's view, in other words, putting on a tour in small towns that can't afford a French opera company and giving work to eager musicians from the east in the process is a lose-lose proposition.

Of all the unsavory aspects of French police going around the country busting orchestras and locking up their conductors or managers, it is the notion that it's being done to protect these innocent violin-playing lambs from Sofia that drips heaviest with irony. In common with price-fixing cartels the world 'round, France and Germany's high-priced musicians have only one interest in this affair, and that is keeping low-priced competition off the market. That this means smallish French towns get no opera, or get it only when heavy public subsidies are made available for it, concerns them not at all."

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